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October 7, 1998

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I can think of no more worthy aim for a piece of legislation than to bring the riches of higher learning to the next generation of Americans. I know the Congressmen assembled here share the pride and awe I feel as I make this noble legislation the law of the land.

President Bill Clinton
October 7, 1998

Today, President Clinton is joined at the White House by Education Secretary Richard Riley and a bi-partisan group of Congressional members as he signs legislation extending the Higher Education Act and enacts five important new initiatives to improve educational opportunities, teacher preparation, and recruitment.

Extending Educational Opportunities, Strengthening Higher Education. The Higher Education Act, originally enacted in 1965, authorizes many of the federal government's programs to increase access to college, including federal Pell grants, student loans, work-study, as well as programs to improve teacher training, strengthen developing institutions, and promote innovation. Today, President Clinton is signing legislation reauthorizing the Higher Education Act for five years, and including proposals requested by the President that:

  • Slash The Student Loan Interest Rate by extending the the student loan rate for college of 7.46 % for an additional five years, down from 8.25 %, saving students $11 billion over the next five years;
  • Help Disadvantaged Children Prepare For College. The legislation launches a new national effort based on the President's High Hopes for College Initiative to help disadvantaged students prepare for college. This program, called GEAR UP, that provides competitive grants to colleges that partner with high-poverty middle schools and families to inform them as early as possible about financial aid available for college, and to provide long-term mentoring and tutoring;
  • Improve Teacher Preparation And Recruitment. This legislation includes the President's proposals and more, it: (1) provides grants between teacher education institutions and school districts to produce teachers who have strong teaching and technology skills; (2) recruits additional teachers for high-need areas through grants to partnerships between high-quality teacher education programs and locals schools; (3) supports state-level efforts to improve teacher quality through grants to strengthen teacher certification, create alternative ways into teaching, hold higher education institutions responsible for the quality of teacher they prepare, and recruit high-quality teachers; (4) strengthens accountability in teacher education by requiring that states and teacher education institutions report on teacher preparation, including their students' performance on teacher licensing exams;
  • Promote High Quality Distance Education. This legislation authorizes the Learning Anytime Anywhere Partnership (LAAP) program, that will provide grants to partnerships between schools and other entities to create new distance learning models, explore the efficacy of cost reduction through institutional partnerships, and develop innovative measures of student achievement in distance education. This legislation also expands student aid eligibility for distance learners -- nontraditional students, such as full-time workers, parents, and people in rural areas who are in higher education programs;
  • Is An Historic Step Toward A New Model Of Government. This bill creates a Performance-Based Organization (PBO) to deliver financial aid -- loans, grants, work-study and other assistance -- that will be led by an executive with expertise in information technology and experience with financial systems, who reports directly to the Secretary of Educations and has new administrative flexibility in exchange for increased accountability for results.

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